‘Mika Rottenberg’ is the first major presentation of artist Mika Rottenberg's work on the West Coast. The exhibition celebrates the global release of ‘Remote’ in late September: her first feature-length film, made in collaboration with filmmaker Mahyad Tousi. The artist’s first Los Angeles exhibition presents a survey of recent works in video, drawing, and sculpture that showcase the breadth and rigor of Rottenberg’s dynamic practice.
Rottenberg illustrates the absurdity of humanity’s rampant production, distribution, and consumption of objects by juxtaposing existing industry with her own, often unexpected, manufacturing systems. ‘I think of objects in terms of the processes behind them and the idea that humankind is captured in everything around us. I want to make these processes more visual. If art has any power, it is in making things visible.’ From pearl and food cultivation to the mass-production of wholesale plastic items sold in China, Rottenberg excavates the processes humans invent to create a sense of control.
‘Cosmic Generator’ (2017) investigates the idea that material is not static but is in constant transformation, while in contrast, humans are confined to the banal reshaping of material as a result of global capitalism. Filmed on site in Yiwu, China and at the border between Mexicali, Mexico and Calexico, California, the video installation collapses the distance between these seemingly disparate geographies – a phenomenon we experience more and more with the advent of new technologies.
The exhibition also includes a selection of drawings created over the course of the pandemic. Replete with a unique visual language – couplings of fingerprints, human limbs, palm trees – these drawings track the artist’s icons in a narrative fashion where they exponentially reproduce and ultimately vanish, evoking diagrams of chain reactions and biological systems.
Reminiscent of Rube Goldberg machines, Rottenberg’s kinetic sculptures are composed from recycled materials and sculptural elements that are arranged into machines. In some of the sculptures, human labor is necessary to activate motion – arms turn cranks and legs pedal wheels. With these sculptures, Rottenberg explores the physical (and metaphorical) distance between human labor and mechanical production, pointing to the futility of emoting energy to create a sense of control that results in something as irreverent and fruitless as a twirling pom-pom.
Argentina-born, New York-based artist Mika Rottenberg is devoted to a rigorous practice that combines film, architectural installation, and sculpture to explore ideas of labor and the production of value in our contemporary hyper-capitalist world. Rottenberg connects seemingly disparate places and things to create elaborate and subversive visual narratives. By weaving fact and fiction together, she highlights the inherent beauty and absurdity of our contemporary existence.
Argentina-born, New York-based artist Mika Rottenberg is devoted to a rigorous practice that combines film, architectural installation, and sculpture to explore ideas of labor and the production of value in our contemporary hyper-capitalist world.